FRESH VIEWS - August 2000
Published monthly by Sharon Eakes, Hope Unlimited, LLC
****************************************************************** FOCUS - Systems
Discipline: Systems Thinking

"When we don't see systems, we are at their mercy."
Barry Oshry

We are all part of many systems...our mind/body system, family, community, workplace, nation, eco-system, for starters. But we often don't see the systems we're in. In both our personal and work lives we usually try to understand what's going on by thoroughly understanding each part. The problem is that in a system -whether it's a body, a family or a business - the parts continually affect each other. So understanding them separately may not help. John Muir made this observation in 1869: "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."


1. "When one family member stubs a toe, the whole family limps."

2. Engineering departments in manufacturing companies get blamed for many problems. The system sets it up: marketing sells products not yet developed; customers are free to change their minds without limits; the same engineers are needed for several projects at the same time.

3. Choose all the highest rated car parts; put them together to make a new car. Is it a winner?


1. See systems. When we "see the system", it is much easier to cooperate and help the system succeed, rather than blame a person, a part or a department. A strategy that helps "see the system" is to imagine that you go to a balcony and look down on the whole situation.

2. Move back and forth between looking at the part/s and looking at the whole.

3. If the system needs to change, disrupt it. The only way a system changes is when someone breaks the pattern. You create chaos and everything is up for grabs. The system WILL reorganize. This is true in a marriage and in a business. So be bold! If the system isn't working well, do something different. If you meet resistance, persist.

Please join me to explore the topic of SYSTEMS more deeply in a 45 minute telegathering on Thursday, August 31, at 8:00 p.m. EDT (7 CDT, 6 MDT, 5 PDT) by calling (702) 558-4398. No need to pre-register...just call.

I am a personal and executive coach. Call me for a free coaching session. Visit the Hope Unlimited website at Reach me: 1-888-769-3494 or e-mail

Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

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